WHEELING - David Sims on Wednesday visited his old stomping grounds - the Ohio County Commission board room.
But he wasn't there to take a spin in his former chair or to say, "Hi," though he did shake a few hands. He was there in his new capacity - circuit judge - to swear Wheeling resident John Clarke into the county commission seat Sims held for years.
Sims was chosen to fill retired Judge Arthur Recht's seat on the bench for the remainder of Recht's term that ends in late 2014. Clarke was given the commission seat temporarily after applying for it along with 10 other people. State Sen. Orphy Klempa, D-Ohio, will compete against Republican Patty Levenson for the commission seat during the November election.
Photo by Shelley Hanson
Ohio County Circuit Judge David Sims on Wednesday swears Wheeling resident John Clarke into the county commission seat Sims vacated to become a judge.
The swearing-in ceremony took place prior to an Ohio County Development Authority board meeting. Sims also served as president of that board. During the OCDA meeting, Commissioner Randy Wharton was appointed president of the authority. Clarke also will serve on the authority board.
"This is a good bunch of people," Clarke said, noting he has known the commissioners for many years. "When they came onto the commission, it was definitely a change. ... I want to continue getting along with them, and I hope whoever (wins the seat) has the same philosophy."
Meanwhile, authority members approved entering into a lease agreement with an unnamed company that will operate at The Highlands. Wharton said the authority could not disclose the company's name until they approved the agreement on their end. He noted, however, it is not a retail tenant.
"It's a big company," Wharton said, noting the business will employ 125 people and will use 19,434 square feet of space at the Town Center section of the development. The company is expected to occupy space below the AT&T call center and next to the Sears Hometown store.
Also, Administrator Greg Stewart announced the authority's 5-mile waterline extension project, which included a new pumphouse on Stone Church Road and a water tower situated at The Highlands, was complete. He noted a related state Department of Environmental Protection fine, previously estimated at $25,950, had been paid. Although the fine was levied to the OCDA, it was incurred by a contractor who worked on the job - Dave Sugar Excavating - who allegedly did not use proper barriers in Wheeling Creek while installing a waterline, causing a "distinctly visible brown plume of suspended solids to enter Middle Wheeling Creek and Wheeling."
While no damage to the creek or animals occurred, the DEP levied the fine because there was potential for harm to be done, DEP officials said previously. Because the OCDA received grant funding for the project, the DEP required that its name be on the related environmental permit paperwork for the project. And since the OCDA's name was on the paperwork, the fine was levied in its name.
"Before the water project, there was only pump station in the county," Wharton said. "It loops the whole county together."
Stewart noted the water project was completed $1.4 million under budget and originally estimated to cost $8 million.
During the Ohio County Commission meeting, held following the OCDA, Stewart said the commission had a $382,034 cash carryover from fiscal 2012. Members also approved the following hotel-motel tax fund requests: $1,000 for Heritage Music BluesFest, Aug. 10-12; $250 for the Marti Wood Stephan 5K race, Sept. 22; $250 for the End Childhood Obesity 5K race, Oct. 27; and $250 for the Wheeling Yankees Baseball Tournament held recently.
Also, Dog Warden Doug McCroskey said 545 animals were vaccinated during this year's pet vaccination clinics held across the county. He noted the number was down compared to past years' clinics, but that was mainly because West Virginia now is only requiring people to get their pets vaccinated every three years. At $8 per shot, the clinics collected $4,360. Each of the four veterinarians was paid $687 for their services. And the animal shelter covered the cost of new tags and supplied workers to help the veterinarians, he said.
Commissioners also approved the following payments related to the runway safety area project at the airport: $6,510 and $307,000 to Cast & Baker, and $45,087 to Michael Baker Engineering. Airport Manager Tom Tominack said the runway lighting system was complete, but a test run still needs to be conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration.
"The light lane is up. The FAA came and looked at it and said it's the nicest in the country," Tominack said of the long metal structure at the end of the runway safety area.
They also approved re-appointing Cheryl Wonderly to the Wheeling-Ohio County Board of Health. And Commissioner Tim McCormick said the commission still needs to find two candidates to appoint to the Interstate 68 Authority.
The next commission meeting is tentatively set for 6 p.m. Aug. 14 in Room 215 of the City-County Building, 1500 Chapline St., Wheeling.